Geology Faculty Publications

Title

Himalayan Glaciers: The Big Picture is a Montage

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Publication Source

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Abstract

Unusual miscarriages of science recently rocked climate change science and glaciology. An infamous paragraph, uncharacteristic of the rest of the contribution of Working Group II to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment, claimed that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. In such a monumental report, errors can be expected. However, this error shredded the reputation of a large and usually rigorous international virtual institution. The gaffe by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change helped to trigger a global political retreat from climate change negotiations, and it may prove to have been one of the more consequential scientific missteps in human history. An equally incorrect claim, on a different timescale, was that large Himalayan glaciers may be responding today to climate shifts 6,000–15,000 years ago. However, both mistakes and some solid scientific reporting on Himalayan glacier dynamics highlight large gaps in the observational record. In PNAS, Fujita and Nuimura competently reduced the knowledge gap.

Inclusive pages

14709–14710

Publisher

National Academy of Sciences

Volume

108

Issue

36

Peer Reviewed

yes